AUSTIN, Texas — A recount in Texas affirmed Democrat US Representative Henry Cuellar as the winner Tuesday of his primary race against progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros, who had trailed by fewer than 200 votes following a runoff in May.
Cuellar, a nine-term congressman, defeated Cisneros by 289 votes, according to results of the recount announced by the Texas Democratic Party.
The Associated Press had not previously declared a winner in the race because it had been too close to call.
It is the second time that Cisneros, a 29-year-old immigration attorney who once interned for Cuellar, has lost a challenge to her former boss, whose moderate record along Texas' heavily Hispanic southern border has aligned him at times with Republicans on issues including abortion and guns.
This time Cisneros got even closer than in 2020, when she lost by 4 percentage points behind national support from the party’s progressive leaders, including Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. They endorsed her again in the rematch along with abortion rights groups that swooped into the race as the Supreme Court signaled it might overturn Roe v. Wade.
Cuellar is one of the last anti-abortion Democrats in Congress and has also bucked party for years over his support of gun rights and tougher stance on immigration. But he still kept the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leadership.
Cuellar will face Republican Cassy Garcia in November in a district that remains favorable to Democrats, But the GOP has growing confidence in South Texas, a longtime Democratic stronghold, after Republican Mayra Flores flipped an open congressional seat in a special election Tuesday.
Alabama, other primary contests being decided
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Representative Mo Brooks has run his race for Senate embracing former president Donald Trump’s election lies. He’s called himself “MAGA Mo” and campaigned alongside the organizers of the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol building — the rally where he infamously told the crowd it was time to start “kicking ass.”
But Brooks’ efforts weren’t enough to keep him in Trump’s favor. The former president rescinded his early Brooks endorsement back in March and then snubbed him a second time, endorsing his rival Katie Britt ahead of Tuesday’s Republican runoff election for the US Senate seat being vacated by Britt’s former boss, retiring GOP Senator Richard Shelby.
Alabama is one of a handful of states holding contests Tuesday at the midpoint of a primary season that has been shaped by Trump’s effort to influence the GOP. In Virginia, Republicans are choosing between Trump-aligned congressional candidates to take on some of the most vulnerable Democrats in the fall. And in Georgia, Democrats will settle several close races, including deciding which Democrat will challenge Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state who overcame a Trump-backed challenge last month.
In Washington, D.C., meanwhile, Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser is seeking reelection amid concerns over homelessness and rising crime.
But the Alabama Senate runoff has drawn particular attention both because of the drama surrounding Trump’s endorsement and the fact that the winner will likely prevail in November in a state Trump won twice by more than 25 percentage points.
Trump initially endorsed Brooks in the spring of 2021, rewarding an ardent champion of his baseless claims of a stolen election. Brooks had voted against certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential election victory and delivered a fiery speech at the rally before the US Capitol insurrection, telling the crowd, “Today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.’’
But nearly a year later, Trump rescinded his support after the pair’s relationship soured and as the conservative firebrand languished in the polls. Trump blamed his decision on comments Brooks had made months earlier, at an August rally, when he said it was time for the party to move on from litigating the 2020 presidential race — comments Trump claimed showed Brooks, one of the most conservative members of Congress, had gone “woke.”
But the move was widely seen as an effort by Trump to save face amid other losses, and Brooks alleged that it came after he informed Trump that there was no way to “rescind’' the 2020 election, remove Biden from power, or hold a new special election for the presidency.
Trump’s un-endorsement was widely expected to end Brooks’ campaign. Instead, Brooks managed to finish second in the state’s May 24 primary, earning 29 percent of the vote to Britt’s 45 percent and forcing a runoff.
While Brooks, 68, and Britt, 40, have similar views, their race represents a clash between two wings of the party and different generations.
Brooks, who is known for his bombastic oratory style, has described the race as a battle for the soul of Republican Party, pitting the “true conservative” wing against establishment members of the GOP. He has disparaged Britt as a RINO — the GOP pejorative meaning “Republican in name only” — and maintained he is the only one with a proven conservative record.
Britt, meanwhile, has cast herself as a new generation of conservative leaders. She has the endorsement of Shelby and other establishment Republicans, but stresses her own social conservative beliefs and has tried to paint Brooks as a career politician.
Biden OK’s pay raise for wildland firefighters
WASHINGTON — President Biden has signed off on giving federal wildland firefighters a hefty raise for the next two fiscal years, a move that affects more than 16,000 firefighters and comes as much of the West braces for a difficult wildfire season.
Pay raises for the federal firefighters had been included in last year’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill, but they had been held up as federal agencies studied recruitment and retention data to decide where to deliver them.
The White House said the move revealed Tuesday is intended to set “federal agencies on a path to continue working with stakeholders towards an updated, competitive, and equitable pay structure, along with a support system that will address the many challenges that have plagued our wildland firefighter workforce for decades.”
The legislation stipulated that the $600 million in the infrastructure bill to increase pay for wildland firefighters should go to all those firefighters provided they are “located within a specified geographic area in which it is difficult to recruit or retain a federal wildland firefighter.”
The Biden administration in the end decided on a raise for all the federal wildland firefighters over the next two years, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of the formal announcement. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Judge rules voting machine maker can sue Fox
Fox News’s parent company can be sued by a voting machine maker falsely accused of rigging the 2020 presidential election against Donald Trump because Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch may have exercised control over coverage, a judge ruled.
Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis on Tuesday denied Fox Corp.’s motion to dismiss the suit by Dominion Voting Systems, saying the plaintiff had shown that the Murdochs may have acted with “actual malice” by broadcasting conspiracy theories about vote-rigging.
Davis, who previously allowed Dominion’s claims against Fox News to proceed, pointed to evidence cited by Dominion suggesting that the Murdochs knew the claims about vote-rigging were false, including that Rupert Murdoch spoke with Trump a few days after the election “and informed him that he had lost.” The voting technology firm was also able to point to a claim that Murdoch urged a Republican leader to ask other politicians in the party not to endorse Trump’s false theory about Dominion.